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Gardening Basics

The Community Food Network advocates organic gardening for the following reasons:

* Organic food contains higher levels of trace minerals and other micronutrients
* Growing food organically is safe for children and pets, as it does not involve the use of toxic pesticides which can cause health problems – and also harm wildlife and the environment.  (The use of snail baits that contain the poison metaldehyde, for example can cause an extremely unpleasant death for animals and birds that eat the pellets or poisoned slugs or snails.)
* Organic gardening makes good use of what would otherwise be waste products such as food scraps, grass clippings, hedge trimmings etc, thus reducing pressure on landfills

If you are an experienced gardener, you may not need to read this page.  If you are a beginner this page is for you!

The Soil and Health Association (which publishes the excellent magazine Organic NZ) has made the very helpful little book Organic Gardening available for free on their website:


NB: If this link does not take you to the exact page on the Organic NZ website, select the tab marked “Organic” from the menu near the top of the page and click on “Organic Gardening” from the  drop down menu.

Organic Gardening  is an extremely good beginner guide to gardening.  (Organic Gardening can also be purchased for just $9.90 from the Organic NZ book club (See: http://www.organicnz.org/bookclub/  or phone 09 419 4536.)

Each issue of Organic NZ also includes useful articles about different aspects of organic growing.  See the website for more information: http://www.organicnz.org/

The Soil and Health Association also has local branches that offer regular meetings with guest speakers sharing their expertise and/or trips to successful organic farms or gardens.  These events are listed in each issue of Organic NZ magazine.

There a few rules that help beginner gardeners to be successful:

1)  Grow foods you and your family like – that will keep you motivated.
2)  Some crops are easier to grow than others.  It is best to start with easy crops first.  Vegetables that can easily be grown by beginner gardeners in most parts of NZ include silverbeet, kale, beetroot, lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, jerusalem artichokes and green beans – bush beans are easier than climbing types.
3)  Choose open pollinated heirloom seeds, preferably those that come from your local area or another part of NZ with a similar climate.  This will help ensure you have seeds that suit your growing conditions.  Also the end of the growing season, you can save seeds from these plants for the following year. (See the Seed Saving and/or Organic Gardening Supplies page for a list of organisations/businesses that supply open-pollinated heirloom seeds.)
4)  A smaller garden is easier to start with, rather than a large garden.  (Once you have more experience you can expand.)
5)  Don’t be afraid to ask for advice from family, friends or neighbours who have more gardening experience.

Categories: Gardening Basics, Gardening Information

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